Glastonbury has been known for a long time for its focus on the arts and contemporary culture. The town has a vast and rich variety of different artistic and cultural experiences to offer, with many skilled and talented residents.
The initial consultation process highlighted just how important this is to our residents; a considerable number of the suggestions arising from the various initiatives referenced this aspect of our town’s life. We streamlined the suggestions and came up with 6 broad headings: Live music performances; murals and street art; busking; theatrical productions; cultural events as visitor attractions eg Beltane, Samhain, Pilgrimage; improvements to existing events i.e. Carnival, Harvest Show, Frost Fayre. We incorporated questions on these subjects into a survey which we presented in hard copy and online.
The survey was promoted through posters, social media, community radio and the local press. We had a stall at the Harvest Show on 9th September 2017 and also ran a free musical event the same evening, inviting people to come along, discuss and brainstorm, fill out the survey and enjoy the entertainment. Although the evening itself attracted a select audience, in total over 160 people completed the survey on the day with a further 150 completing the online survey.
The responses to the survey were used to determine the questions in the Neighbourhood Plan Questionnaire, due to be circulated to all households in Glastonbury early 2018. The responses we receive to the Questionnaire will determine exactly how our community would like to progress this issue and we will be looking at future events to develop ideas further.
What it is important to remember is that the Neighbourhood Plan itself has quite a narrow field of influence, focused as it is on planning policy for the built environment. There could be a number of ways we can built considerations for the arts and contemporary culture into planning policies but there already seems to be a much wider interest in the community.
To address this we would be looking at running a Community Plan in addition to the Neighbourhood Plan. The Community Plan would be able to address all the issues arising from our various consultations which do not fall within the remit of the Neighbourhood Plan and, whilst it would not have the same statutory influence, it would still inform decisions around the Neighbourhood Plan itself.